Wright State men’s basketball: A closer look at the 2022-23 Horizon League

FAIRBORN — College basketball coaches tend to be workaholics, and Wright State’s Scott Nagy can grind with the best of them.

He also has the ability, though, to see the big picture, which is why he gave not only his players three days off over Thanksgiving weekend, but his assistants, too.

After going 2-1 in the Vegas 4 tourney in Henderson, Nev., the Raiders flew into Indianapolis, arriving in the wee hours on Thursday morning.

Nagy was picked up by family members and taken to Illinois to visit old friends, while most of the team bussed back to campus.

“Three games in three days is a lot — physically and emotionally,” Nagy said. “It (was) nice to have some time with families and get away.”

But it was back to business starting last Sunday as they prepared for the launch of Horizon League play.

Yes, it’s here.

The HL went from 18 to 20 league games in 2020-21 and has been placing two of them smack dab in the middle of the non-league season.

The Raiders host Robert Morris at 7 p.m. Thursday and Youngstown State at 1 p.m. Sunday before diving back into non-league play with a trip to Western Kentucky on Dec. 10.

“You’d like to have it pushed back and play more games, but everybody probably has a pretty good idea of who they are and what’s working for them,” Nagy said.

Apart from Wright State and Youngstown State, who are both 5-2, the early results for the league this season haven’t been pretty.

The HL has a 32-32 combined record. Toss out games against lower-division foes, and it drops to 19-32.

According to the RPI ratings at Teamrankings.com, the HL is 29th out of 32 conferences nationally.

But that doesn’t mean league play will be easy.

“Nobody is afraid of anybody. You might go on the road against a really, really good (non-conference) team, and there’s an intimidation factor. You just don’t have that in the league,” Nagy said.

If there was a re-vote for the HL poll, the Raiders probably would be the favorites instead of being picked third. But Nagy knows it’ll be a fight to the finish.

“It doesn’t matter how good the teams are. The coaches know the styles. You’re better scouted, and they have more information. The games are always tighter,” he said.

HORIZON LEAGUE CAPSULES

(By preseason poll rank)

1. Purdue Fort Wayne (4-3): The HL co-favorites are known for their stylish offense but are trying to prove they can win gritty games. … They lost by 19 at Michigan and eight at Northwestern. … The defending regular-season co-champs return four starters, plus the HL sixth man of the year. Jarred Godfrey, who went into the season with 1,613 career points, was a preseason first-team all-league pick.

1. Northern Kentucky (3-4): No team has given Wright State more trouble during the Nagy era than NKU, which is 8-7 since he arrived in 2016. … The co-favorites were beaten soundly at home by Kent State and Toledo but torched Cincinnati, 64-51. … They were a top-3 pick in the preseason poll for the sixth straight year. Marques Warrick was selected first-team all-league, and Sam Vinson and Trevon Faulkner were named to the second team.

4. Oakland (2-6): Greg Kampe went into the season with 644 career wins and received a contract extension through 2026-27 after going 20-12 last season. That’s the same win tally as John Wooden. Of course, the Wizard of Westwood did it in 29 years, while Kampe is in Year 39. … The Grizzles have played a meaty schedule and have beaten only Defiance (92-27) and Eastern Michigan (92-90, OT). They return Jalen Moore, who was second in the nation in assists (7.7) last year and was named preseason second-team all-league.

5. YSU (5-2): HL teams typically get hurt by the transfer portal, but the Penguins have turned it into an advantage this year with two nice offseason acquisitions: Northern Kentucky grad Adrian Nelson, who left with the second-best career field-goal percentage and sixth-most rebounds in Norse history, and Canisius grad Malek Green, a former MAAC sixth man of the year and third-team all-league pick. … They have Division-I wins over Canisius, UT-Martin and UC San Diego and lost at Notre Dame, 88-81. Former Dayton guard Dwayne Cohill was named preseason first-team all-league. He was 10th in the HL in scoring with a 14.9 average last season and third in foul shooting at 83.5%.

6. Detroit Mercy (3-4): Pete Maravich’s all-time college scoring record of 3,667 points (IN THREE YEARS!) is probably safe, but other marks will fall with HL player of the year (and high-volume shooter) Antoine Davis returning for a fifth season. He’s got 2,897 points, second in HL history to former Loyola star Alfredrick Hughes’ 2,914. Only 10 players in NCAA history have reached 3,000. Davis also has an NCAA-record 118 straight double-figure games. … The son of coach Mike Davis flirted with transferring to a higher level before returning. The 6-1 guard led the HL in scoring (23.9) for the fourth straight year last season and was second in the nation in 3′s per game (3.9), while leading the league in 3-point shooting (37.9%) and foul shooting (88.2). … The Titans have a win over Ohio U. but are coming off a 96-54 loss at Washington State.

7. Cleveland State (4-3): Dennis Gates was in demand after the Vikings won a share of their second straight HL regular-season title last year, and he left to take over at Missouri. New coach Daniyal Robinson, a former Iowa State assistant, had only five returning players on the roster, including Wayne grad Deshon Parker, and he signed eight newcomers. … Tristan Enurana averages a team-best 13.3 points, while Parker is second at 9.7.

8. Robert Morris (2-5): The Colonials fared far better under 13th-year coach Andrew Toole in the Northeast Conference (two regular-season titles) than they have in the HL (12th and 10th in two years). … They’re coming off an 0-3 showing in the mid-major Hostilo Hoops Classic in Savannah, Ga. … Kahliel Spear was named preseason second-team all-league. He averaged 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds last season and led the HL in shooting at 55.1%. The Colonials returned three other starters.

9. Milwaukee (5-3): The Pat Baldwin father-son saga fell far short of expectations. Baldwin Sr. landed Baldwin Jr., a top-5 national recruit, but the Panthers went 10-22 last season, and Junior played just 11 games and averaged 12.1 points. He was a late first-round NBA draft pick. Senior was fired and is an assistant now at Georgetown. … The new coach is Bart Lundy, who went 30-4 last season at Division-II Queens University in Charlotte.

10. Green Bay (0-6): The Wisconsin swing in league play for Wright State was once considered treacherous. Now? Those games are more like breathers. The Phoenix has gone 8-17 and 5-25 in coach Will Ryan’s first two seasons. He brought in nine new players this year, including six college transfers. … GB is averaging 56.8 points, getting out-scored by nearly 21 per game and has no one averaging in double figures.

11. IUPUI (1-6): Coaches in the league would have reason to squawk about the Jaguars getting to host the HL tourney if, well, if it was anybody other than the Jaguars. … They went 3-26 overall and 1-16 in the league last season, finishing 358th (dead last) in the NET ratings. ... They return just two letter-winners but picked up a pair of transfers, including former Sam Houston guard and Southland Conference freshman of the year Bryce Monroe, who averages a team-high 12 points.

THURSDAY’S GAME

Robert Morris at Wright State, 7 p.m., ESPN+, 980

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